21 min: Two more of those long balls from Newcastle – one to Saint-Maximin, the other to Almiron – and you’ve guessed it, no end product.
17 min: Krafth, at right-back, is doing a fine impression of Kieran Trippier. He bustles into the box and delivers a low cross, but again there’s no shot to show for it.
15 min: Newcastle make it into the box with a long curling ball from Shelvey to Wood, but they can’t make anything of it. So far, they’ve been all possession and no trousers.
13 min: Another man down! It’s Joao Moutinho, who gets a boot in the armpit. He seems to be OK.
11 min: Fabio Silva does well to win a 50-50 on the halfway line, and it feels as if Wolves are going to spring forward, but the next pass is a sloppy one, straight out of play.
Fraser is down again and he’s walking off, to be replaced by Miguel Almiron.
9 min: Ryan Fraser goes down with an injury off the ball and gets some attention from the physio. To my untrained eye, it looks like a hamstring.
8 min: Newcastle are getting more of the ball now, with Wolves sitting back, waiting for the moment to counter. When Newcastle win a free kick and bunt the ball into the box, Wolves clear comfortably.
6 min: José Sá is rudely awakened by a long diagonal cross from Matt Targett and a lung-busting run from Chris Wood. Sa greets the ball with a punch, and it’s a very punchy one.
4 min: Wolves’ turn to press as Shelvey dawdles in midfield. Their first attack ends with a long ball that sails out for a goal kick.
2 min: Wolves have most of the early possession, but they hardly get out of their own half as Newcastle press.
As Hey Jude rings out, a camera goes into the tunnel. The guy who catches the eye is José Sá – leaning against the wall, so relaxed that he’s almost asleep.
Look away now if you’re saving England’s World Cup qualifier in North Macedonia for later. Spoiler alert: the Lionesses are tucking in. Follow our MBM here with Sarah Riddell.
Wolves, by the way, also have to play the big two. Their fixture list is much like Newcastle’s, except with one game fewer, and one date still to be decided – the game against Man City that now won’t be happening next weekend.
In full: Burnley (a), Brighton (h), Chelsea (a), Norwich (h), City (h), Liverpool (a).
Lage expecting a tough night
“Hard,” says Bruno Lage, when asked what sort of game he’s expecting. “Newcastle is a hard team to play against, especially since January, new manager, new players. I watched their last two games and they were very good.”
And yes, he is including the 5-1 defeat at Spurs. “Don’t care about the result, [I just care] about the performance.”
An email! From the tireless Peter Oh. “Your ‘two for Wolves too’ post gave me a strange flashback,” he says, “to the 1987 film Teen Wolf Too.
“Speaking of teen wolves, I see that the young whippersnapper Luke Cundle is in the visitors’ starting lineup.” He is – making, I think, his second league start, following the rip-roaring win at Spurs in February. He’s making the most of his teens, which come to an end on 26 April.
How squeaky is your bum?
Newcastle are seven points above the bottom three. Jamie Carragher thinks they’re safe, but Eddie Howe is not so sure. “For me, there’s still a threat of relegation,” he says. “And I’m sure the players have the same mentality as I have – I’ve been trying to drum that into them. We have to finish the job, and we’ve got a tough run of fixtures at the end of the season. It’s vital that we get something tonight and change the momentum.”
Those fixtures are an interesting mix, ranging from three of the current top five to two of the bottom three. In full: Leicester (h), Palace (h), Norwich (a), Liverpool (h), Man City (a), Arsenal (h), Burnley (a).
… and two for Wolves too
Bruno Lage also makes two changes, leaving out Dendoncker and Podence and bringing in Luke Cundle and Hee-Chan Hwang, who scored both Wolves’ goals in the 2-1 win in the reverse fixture.
Wolverhampton Wanderers (possible 3-4-3): Sa; Boly, Coady, Kilman; Jonny, Cundle, Moutinho, Marcal; Trincao, Fabio Silva, Hwang.
Subs: Ruddy, Alt-Nouri, Mosquera, Semedo, Toti, Saiss, Campbell, Neto, Chiquinho.
Teams: two changes for Newcastle …
Eddie Howe can’t have been too furious with the XI that lost at Spurs because he’s kept faith with nine of them. He is without Joe Willock, so he brings in Bruno Guimaraes in midfield, and he also replaces Javier Manquillo with Emil Krafth at right-back.
Newcastle (possible 4-3-3): Dubravka; Krafth, Burn, Schar, Targett; Guimaraes, Shelvey, Joelinton; Fraser, Wood, Saint-Maximin.
Subs: Darlow, Dummett, Lascelles, Manquillo, Ritchie, Murphy, Longstaff, Almiron, Gayle.
Evening everyone and welcome to the first match of a fascinating Premier League weekend. Whether it’ll be a fascinating match remains to be seen. But it’s a Friday night in Newcastle, so a lot of people will be making a lot of noise while wearing not a lot of clothes. And both these clubs have plenty to play for.
Wolves, after a wobble, are back among the contenders for the Europa This or the Europa That. In the Premier League table of the past month they stand third, trailing Spurs and Liverpool only on goal difference. And that’s despite having to manage without Raul Jimenez and Ruben Neves.
Newcastle come into this game from the other direction – the doldrums. After enjoying a big new-manager bounce under Eddie Howe, they’ve gone and lost their last three games, culminating in a 5-1 drubbing at Spurs last weekend. But all those defeats happened on the road. This is their chance to show their own fans that they haven’t wound the clocks back to last autumn.
Kick-off is at 8pm, and I’ll be back soon after 7 with the teams.
- Wolves 1-1 Liverpool - Premier League LIVE: Cody Gakpo fires…
- Man United 1-3 Brighton - Premier League LIVE: Erik ten…
- Premier League LIVE: Rodri is sent off for Manchester City…
- Everton 0-1 Arsenal - LIVE: Leandro Trossard caps of…
- Brentford 1-1 Everton - Premier League LIVE: Mathias Jensen…
- Arsenal 4-0 PSV - Champions League LIVE: Bukayo Saka,…
- Real Madrid 0-0 Union Berlin - Champions League LIVE:…
- Premier League LIVE: James Ward-Prowse puts in-form West Ham…